How to choose a tax agent
Find out what you should look for if you want a tax agent to interact with HMRC on your behalf.
You can choose to use a tax adviser or agent to interact with HMRC on your behalf, particularly if you have complex tax affairs.
If you decide that you need a tax agent, you must make sure to choose the right tax agent carefully. This is because even if you use a tax agent, you remain responsible for your own tax affairs.
How to decide if you need a tax agent
Before choosing a tax agent, think about whether you can deal with HMRC yourself. You can do this through your personal tax account or your business tax account.
You can claim a tax refund (also known as a tax rebate) on GOV.UK. You do not need an agent to do this for you.
An agent will charge fees for claiming a tax refund for you.
You can also get help from:
- contacting HMRC if you have simple queries
- friends and family if they are registered as a trusted helper
- charities, such as Tax Help for Older People and TaxAid
- Citizens Advice
What you need to look out for
If you do decide to choose a tax agent, you should:
- check their website to see what tax services they offer
- read their terms and conditions so you fully understand the fees you will pay, any legal contract you may be agreeing to and the service you’re signing up for
- check how much the agent charges and how and when you’re expected to make payment
- find out about their reputation and history (for example, search for online reviews or their Facebook page)
- make sure they have the right experience to help you, for example certain trade sectors or business sizes
- check they can provide all the services you need, for example, payroll, audit or investment
- ask if they’re registered for Online Access with HMRC so they can do your tax digitally
- confirm they are aware of and meeting HMRC’s agent standards
- check if your adviser holds relevant professional qualifications or is a member of an accountancy or tax professional body
From 2 August 2023, if you use a tax agent to submit Income Tax or PAYE repayment claims on your behalf, they may need to have an agent services account.
Make sure you contact a few different agents before choosing which one provides the right services for you.
You should meet the person who will be interacting with HMRC on your behalf and find out how much they will charge you for their services.
Even if you use an agent, the figures on your tax return are your responsibility. You must not sign a blank return for your tax agent to fill in and should always review the return before signing it.
You should also never share your Government Gateway user ID or password with your agent.
How tax agent professional bodies work
Be aware that anyone can call themselves a tax agent – they do not have to have qualifications or professional training and HMRC does not regulate agents.
Many tax agents and advisers are members of accountancy or tax professional bodies. These are organisations which provide relevant qualifications and help their members stay up to date through continuous professional training. Professional bodies will also review the behaviour of their members and take action if their behaviour falls short of professional standards. Members of professional bodies are also more likely to hold professional indemnity insurance, which can help protect you if things go wrong.
What to do next
Once you have chosen an agent, you must appoint and authorise them to deal with HMRC on your behalf.
Find out how to appoint someone to deal with HMRC on your behalf.
Last updated 3 May 2023 + show all updates
Information about tax agents needing an agent services account to submit Income Tax or PAYE repayment claims on behalf of others has been added.